Claude-Emile Schuffenecker

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Claude Émile Schuffenecker was an important French Post-Impressionist artist, collector and art teacher. He is known today for his eclectic painting style that was influenced by the pointillists, the Symbolists, the Post-Impressionists and the Impressionists. The artist was born in Frèsne Saint-Mamès, however, following from the death of his father when Schuffenecker was a mere two years old, the family moved to Paris and it was here that his artistic career developed.

1872 was a crucial year for the artist, as it was the year he began working for the broker Bertin, where he met fellow artist, Paul Gauguin. Whilst working in this accountancy firm they quickly became close friends and would often take trips to the Louvre to study the old masters. Whilst they both kept their accountancy jobs to earn a steady income, both trained together at the Académie Suisse and then at the Académie Colarossi the following year.

Early on his career Schuffenecker exhibited works at the Salon, and often won prizes for his drawings and by 1880 he had devoted himself entirely to painting. In 1882 and 1883 his paintings were refused by the Salon and so in 1884 Schuffenecker joined the Impressionists at the Société des Artistes Indépendants and in 1886 he partook in their 8th and final exhibition.

It was also at this time when he began collecting work by fellow artists, and he quickly came to admire the work of Seurat, Cézanne, Redon, Van Gogh and of course Gauguin. Naturally Schuffenecker was influenced by their painterly styles, and in the present painting there is a clear influence of Van Gogh’s expressive, Post-Impressionist brushstrokes which he has incorporated into the snow-filled scene. Similarly, the juxtaposition of warm organs and yellow hues with the cool purple and blues in the sky is reminiscent of Seurat’s pointillist technique – which Schuffenecker was impressed by upon viewing Seurat’s ‘The Bathers’ in the Salon des Indépendants in 1884.

Notably, throughout the 1890s Schuffenecker continued to amass a large collection of paintings with numerous acquisitions of Van Gogh works purchased through the deceased artist’s sister. His collection included Gauguin’s ‘Yellow Jesus’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Postman’ and one of his formidable sunflower paintings, amongst other significant works.

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